MeCCO Monthly Summary: Morrison Installed, Clean Power Plan Uninstalled

Media and Climate Change Observatory (MeCCO)
August 2018 Summary

In addition, North American coverage was up 27% in August, due primarily to media attention paid to the mid-month proposal by the US Trump Administration to replace the Clean Power Plan with what was dubbed the ‘Affordable Clean Energy rule’.Elsewhere, moderate increases were also detected in Central/South America (up 18%), Africa (up 10%) and Europe (up 8%), while going down only in Asia (down 7%) this month compared to the previous month of July.

In January of this year, MeCCO expanded coverage to sixty-two newspaper sources, six radio sources and six television sources. These span across thirty-eight countries, in English, Spanish, German and Portuguese. In addition to English-language searches of “climate change” or “global warming”, we search Spanish-language sources through the terms “cambio climático” or “calentamiento global”, German-language sources through the terms ‘klimawandel’ or ‘globale erwärmung’, and Portuguese-language sources through the terms “mudanças climáticas” or “aquecimento global”. Figure 1 shows these ebbs and flows in newspaper media coverage at the global scale – organized into seven geographical regions around the world – over the past 176 months (from January 2004 through August 2018).

Moving to considerations of content within these searches, Figure 2 shows word frequency data in the dynamic spaces of Australian media coverage in August 2018.

As was noted at the top, considerable attention was paid to political content of coverage during the month of August. Frequent stories from the Southern Hemisphere involved the replacement of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Scott Morrison. While Morrison was invoked 571 times across 495 articles in August, the focus was on the departure of Prime Minister Turnbull, mentioned 2311 times in the month. Stories like ‘Energy industry anger as PM splits climate from power policy’ by journalists Ben Packham and Greg Brown in The Australian described the fallout from this leadership changeover on energy policy in the country. Another article appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald by journalists Nicole Hasham and Peter Hannam discussed how this change of power would impact Australia’s ongoing adherence or abandonment of the Paris climate treaty. And an opinion piece by former Liberal opposition leader John Hewson in The Age discussed how “climate change has now proved a defining element in a run of Australian political leaders, from John Howard through to Malcolm Turnbull”.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the Trump administration’s proposed replacement for the Clean Power Plan an ‘Affordable Clean Energy rule’ generated media coverage in August. For example, journalist Lisa Friedman wrote in an article in The New York Times, “the Trump administration has hailed its overhaul of federal pollution restrictions on coal-burning power plants as creating new jobs, eliminating burdensome government regulations and ending what President Trump has long described as a “war on coal.” The administration’s own analysis, however, revealed on Tuesday that the new rules could also lead to as many as 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030 from an increase in the extremely fine particulate matter that is linked to heart and lung disease, up to 15,000 new cases of upper respiratory problems, a rise in bronchitis, and tens of thousands of missed school days.” Read more …

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